Clemson University and Greenville Technical College officials broke ground Monday for a $25 million center that will advance the manufacturing workforce and serve the automotive, transportation and other high-tech sectors.
The Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI) is a collaboration between a leading research university, an innovative technical college and manufacturers to create a center that enhances the development and implementation of advanced manufacturing technologies.
The primary goal for CMI is to increase the number of skilled workers for manufacturing to close the skills gap that has hampered the progress of many Upstate employers.
CMI, to be located adjacent to the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research Technology Neighborhood 1, will offer education designed to meet industry needs. It will include dual-credit programs in partnership with Greenville County Schools, articulations that promote students’ progress from associate’s to bachelor’s degrees and workforce training and certificate programs that increase the qualifications of manufacturing employees.
Research for innovation in advanced manufacturing and future technologies related to advanced manufacturing will be incorporated into instruction. CMI will also include a Manufacturing Honors College, expected to be the first of its kind.
The center will engage K-12 students and show them the possibilities that exist in advanced manufacturing careers through dual enrollment programs, tours, camps and open houses. Students will also benefit from internships and apprenticeships that allow them to gain practical experience working alongside experienced engineers, faculty and staff.
CMI is designed to change perceptions about manufacturing with architectural features that will instantly engage students. The entryway will provide observation points where a visitor can view simulated advanced manufacturing environments and interactive displays that will educate and inspire.
From an economic development perspective, Upstate leaders have said that the economic development race will be won by communities that offer the services manufacturers need. To help companies compete globally, employers need a flexible, highly skilled workforce equipped to maximize new technologies, adapt to evolving production processes and work organization models and solve problems rapidly.
The center will offer landing pad space that helps companies start up or relocate and will provide flexible space where manufacturers can create prototypes and teach their current employees new skills to keep them on the cutting edge of improvements in technology.
The idea for the campus began with the needs of employers. As the concept has been developed, leaders with area manufacturers including BMW, Michelin, GE, Bosch Rexroth, ADEX Machining Technologies, League Manufacturing, JTEKT Koyo, Fabri-Kal, SpecFab Services, Master PT, Standard Motor Products and more have voiced strong support for the project and have provided input that has allowed plans for CMI to take shape.
In September 2013, the Greenville County Council gave unanimous approval to a $25 million bond issue for Greenville Technical College to build an enterprise campus.
In November 2013, the presidents of Greenville Tech and Clemson University signed a memorandum of understanding.
Clemson University President James P. Clements said Clemson is proud to continue its strong relationship with Greenville Technical College.
“The Center for Manufacturing Innovation is another great example of the partnership between Clemson and Greenville Tech,” said Clements. “This center has the potential to transform manufacturing education in the Upstate, which will make a huge difference that will eventually be felt across South Carolina, and I am thankful for all of the people who worked to make this happen.”
“Our Center for Manufacturing Innovation represents a game-changing approach to education,” said Keith Miller, president of Greenville Technical College. “We will close the skills gap by creating the skills needed for new employees and improving the skills of the current workforce. And we will fully integrate education from the K-12 system to the two-year college to the four-year university level, working together to better meet the needs of manufacturers in order to advance our economy.”